Privacy Act

In Aotearoa, the Privacy Commissioner's Office works to develop and promote a culture in which personal information is protected and respected.

The Privacy Commissioner administers the Privacy Act 1993. The Privacy Act applies to almost every person, business or organisation in New Zealand. The Act sets out 12 privacy principles that guide how personal information can be collected, used, stored and disclosed.

The Privacy Act controls how "agencies" collect, use, disclose, store and give access to "personal information".

Personal information is information about identifiable, living people.

Almost every person or organisation that holds personal information is an "agency". So, for example, the Privacy Act covers government departments, companies of all sizes, religious groups, schools and clubs.

Only a few organisations and people are exempt from the Act. Other rules exist to govern how they manage personal information. Among the most important exceptions are:

  • Members of Parliament, when they are acting as MPs;
  • Courts and tribunals, in relation to their judicial functions;
  • The news media when they are conducting their news activities.

Individuals who collect or hold personal information for their own personal, family or household affairs are also exempt from the Act.

On occasion, other laws may override the Privacy Act.

If you have a privacy complaint, first raise it with the agency involved. If you do not receive a satisfactory response, approach the Privacy Commissioner for assistance. Rennie Cox can help you draft your complaint so that your objections are clear and the remedy sought is one which is likely to be granted.